Congratulations Are In Order

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Matthew 5:2-12 | January 30 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
January 30
Congratulations Are In Order | Matthew 5:2-12
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father in heaven, whether we have studied these words many times or are hearing them for the first time, would You do a new work in our hearts to convict us of sin, to lead us to Christ, to give us Your grace that we might live according to the kingdom as members in the kingdom, as subjects to the King. Give me the words to say, give us the ears to hear, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

We’ll listen again to these words that we have just sung, that wonderful hymn from Isaac Watts, as we turn in our Bibles to Matthew chapter 5, verse 2 through verse 12. Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount in this way.

“And He opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'”

You can often tell if a letter or a message or a note is good news or bad news based on just the opening phrase, or sometimes just the opening word. Imagine if you opened the envelope, unfold the letter, or you pull up the e-mail on your screen, and it begins “We regret,” or worse, “It is with a heavy heart,” or “We are grieved,” or just “Woe,” w-o-e, that kind of woe. That tells you brace yourselves, this is going to be bad news.

I saw online in the last couple of weeks, I’m not sure if it’s true, I hope that it’s true, it makes a good story, but there was a student who had received a rejection letter from Harvard and so he decided to write his own letter in response to Harvard’s rejection letter, and it said something like this: “Dear ma’am, or sir, I received your letter and I want to commend you for your hard work and your courage in writing it and sending it to me. I can tell that it has come from a place of great effort and thoughtfulness. However, I have received many rejection letters and I can’t possibly accept all of them. So after giving it my careful attention and much thought, I have come to the difficult conclusion that I must reject your rejection letter. I trust that you will take it all in stride and I look forward to seeing you this fall.” No word on how Harvard responded or what they did if he did show up in the fall.

On the other hand, if you opened a letter or pulled down your e-mail and it began with words like “It is with profound gratitude” or “we are overjoyed” or “we are pleased to inform you” or simply the word “congratulations,” I think if you typed that on your phone, just congratulations, it even sends the balloons and the streamers all by itself. You know something good is being announced. There’s encouraging news.

We come to this part at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount called “The Beatitudes.” I think that it’s easy to misunderstand and we think it’s so-called because these are the attitudes we are supposed to be, be attitudes. But that’s just a coincidence in English. “Beatitude” comes from the Latin word “beatus” meaning blessing or blessed. The Greek work is “makarios,” and it can mean blessed or fortunate or happy.

Some modern translations try to spice things up a little bit and get our attention and use the word “happy,” which is not technically incorrect, but could be easily misunderstood. We think of happiness as an emotional state that passively comes and goes. We think of it as just a subjective or objective experience, when these verses are pointing to our objective position relative to God, His kingdom, and His promises.

No, blessed is a good word. It’s an Old Testament word. You may think of Psalm 1: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.

Or Psalm 32: Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.

If you’ve been here in the morning, from our studies in Genesis, you know to be blessed is a covenantal term. You see it in Genesis 12, or Deuteronomy 28, where there are the blessings on one mountain and the curses on the other mountain for Israel.

Or the benediction, which is a blessing from Numbers 6. The Lord bless you and keep you. It means may you have fellowship with God, a right relationship with your God. May He be your God and you will be His people.

So blessing is a covenantal word. It’s also an eschatological word. That means it has to do with the future. Who you are from God’s perspective and what is coming to you on the final day. Already enjoy some of it, but on the final day, this blessing is coming to you. A good word.

Now blessed is a fine translation. Let’s keep it. But if you had to have another word, I think the word “congratulations” gets at what the word “blessed.” So blessed is a great word, it has all those Old Testament references, but it may sound like, well, what it is. It’s a Bible word. It’s a spiritual word. So if that doesn’t quite get your attention, imagine Jesus opening the Sermon on the Mount by speaking to you, “Congratulations are in order,” and He goes to enumerate those who will receive the congratulations.

There are eight Beatitudes. We just sang that hymn that had eight verses. You can see that they are bookended. Verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and then the promise again in verse 10, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Then an expansion of that in verses 11 and 12. So it begins and it ends with the promise of the kingdom.

So promise and exhortation is inherent in each of these promises. “Congratulations, here’s what you will receive,” and implied is “here is the life you ought to live.” This is what it looks like to follow Jesus. This is Discipleship 101 and let’s be honest, it’s Discipleship 201 and 301 and for the rest of our life. This is what kingdom living looks like.

Let’s simply walk through each one.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Poor is not chiefly a financial term, though there’s a reason that it’s “poor” because poverty was more often associated with the kind of humility of spirit than were the rich.

In Luke 4 Jesus announces that He came to preach good news to the poor. Commentators often wrestle with, well, what does that mean? Good news to the poor, and this is a socio-economic thing. Well, it’s really a heart thing. And you’re saying, “Well, you’re just saying that, Kevin, because that sounds convenient.” No, that’s what the context tells us in Luke chapter 4. Why? Because after Jesus announces at the beginning of His public ministry in Nazareth that He has come to preach good news to the poor, He then gives two examples of the poor to whom this Gospel came, and one was Naamaan, the Syrian general, and the other was the widow of Zarephath. Remarkably, neither of them were Jews, but notice the first one was not materially poor. He was actually a person of great power and wealth and prestige, but he’s an example of the “poor” because he humbled himself to dip into the Jordan River and receive God’s blessing. Then there is the widow, who was materially poor and also humbly believed the prophet’s word.

So to be poor is as Jesus says, “Poor in spirit.” We’re talking about a humility. It’s the opposite of being haughty, arrogant, self-assured. Think of the prodigal son who came to his senses while he’s eating among the pigs. He was haughty in spirit when he demanded of his father his inheritance and he went off and squandered it on wild living, but at that moment, when his heart was changed and he realized, “What am I doing eating among the pigs when my father has riches for me?” and he realized that his great confidence led to his great downfall, and now in his time of need he could receive from his father mercy.

Think of the hymn “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling, naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace, foul, I too the fountain fly, wash me, Savior, or I die. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, nothing in my hand I bring.”

Sometimes people refer to “the faith of the open hand.” Don’t you deep down, don’t I deep down, okay, we know grace, we know all that, but we want to come to God with just something, just a little memento. Maybe a note from our parents that said we were good kids. Maybe a grade, maybe a coach, maybe a letter of reference, just something, maybe some good thing we want to bring to Christ. Here I am, and Jesus says, “What’s in your hand?” “Well, some good deeds.” Uh-huh. Nothing, nothing in my hand I bring. The faith is the faith that receives, it’s the faith of the open, empty hand.

Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “My kind of man, my kind of woman, my kind of child, is the one who has nothing and knows that they have nothing.” That’s why the promise is commensurate with the weakness. If you know you have nothing, that is apart from Me you have nothing, you have nothing to commend yourself to Me, nothing that would deserve heaven. If you know that, guess what? I’ll give you heaven.” That’s the irony. If you come to Jesus and you think you have some itty bitty reason for heaven, no. If you say, “I have nothing in my hand I bring,” Jesus says, “Congratulations! That’s just the sort of person who gets the kingdom of heaven.”

Not given by might or by zeal or merit or status or skin color or language, but it is given to those who are poor in spirit. You will be given everything, just so long as you know that in yourself you possess nothing.

“Blessed,” He continues, “are those who mourn.”

It may be a reference to general mourning, but just as “poor” has a spiritual dimension, I think this “mourning” has a spiritual dimension. It isn’t simply, “if you feel bad, then you must be on your way to heaven.” But rather Jesus is speaking about the mourning that contrite sinners have over their sin, that fits with the progression from the poor in spirit, from the mourning, from the meek.

It’s like Psalm 130, “out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord. O Lord, hear my voice. Let Your years be attentive to my please for mercy. If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness that You may be feared.”

You see that Jesus has in mind a certain kind of mourning, because later in the Sermon on the Mount He’ll say, “some of you will say on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we know You?'” There will be those who have a weeping and gnashing of teeth to whom the promise does not come. This is not just that they’re sad, they are sad over their sins.

From confession, poor in spirit, to contrition, mourning.

Again, you can be so familiar with this you can miss the amazing statement Jesus is making: Happy are the unhappy. If you weep over your sin, if you are disgusted by your sin. If you are here tonight, you feel terrible for your sin, congratulations. God has good news for you.

Comfort, comfort, My people, says Your God. There are echoes of the first two Beatitudes in Isaiah 61: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor and has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.

That very reference that Jesus reads from in Luke chapter 4 in announcing His ministry comes from Isaiah 61, there you hear the first two Beatitudes. The Spirit was upon Jesus to preach good news, one to the poor, two to the broken-hearted.

Calvin says, “Mourning contributes to a happy life by preparing us to receive eternal joy, and by provoking us to seek our comfort in God alone.”

The world does not want to give you time to mourn. The world wants to distract you, wants to redirect you. No, no, no. Don’t feel bad. The world doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes even in church or Christians don’t know what to do. Quickly, get away from mourning. Just, here’s a game. Here’s something to numb the pain.

God means for us when we weep over our sins not to quickly pass by but in that mourning, in that contrition, to receive from His hands comfort. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

If you want God, let me put this in very human terms you’ll understand, but if you want God to come up and give you a great big hug, and look, I’m a dutchman and I know hugs are, oohhh, but hey, we need a big hug. You know who God, you know who He’s looking for? He’s looking for the downcast. He’s looking for the broken-hearted. He’s like a good coach. He’s like a good parent. He’s like a good friend. Not the one who’s strutting through life, the one who can’t put his chin up, the one who has been weeping her whole day. God is there, an arm around, a hug. Be comforted as you weep for your sins.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Meekness is hard to define. It’s not a subservient groveling. It’s not a spineless acquiescence. It’s not a servility. What is it then? It’s a combination of patience, gentleness, and submission to the will of God.

You might put it like this: Meekness is learning to be self-controlled even when we are not in control. Meekness is learning to be self-controlled even when we are not in control.

Meekness is opening your heart instead of clenching your fist. Meekness is the firm resolve that it is always better to suffer than to sin. If you have before you one path that is sure suffering and another path that is sin, but maybe that path, it’s just a little lie, it’s just a little revenge, it’s just a little look, a little flesh, that mark, that will mean less suffering. God would have us as meek men and women to always choose the path suffering instead of the path sin. That’s the path of the cross. It’s the path that Jesus took. “Take My yoke upon you, learn from Me, I am gentle, or I am meek and lowly in heart.”

Meekness is not about being a doormat. Jesus could speak very frankly to people. Meekness is about being calm, resolute, dignified. It means you do not do whatever it takes to get ahead. You do not stoop to those who are beneath you or acting beneath you.

So it makes all the sense that the meek, those who are lowly in spirit, those who do not do the way of the world and grasping and climbing the ladder of success, Jesus says, “If you can trust Me, I will give you all of the riches you want later.”

That’s what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to be a “later” person, to believe that God has things for us later. The non-Christian, I just need it now, ’cause if I don’t get it now, I won’t get it. Jesus says, “If you’re meek, you gotta pass on some of it now. I’ll give it to you later. You’ll inherit the earth.”

Psalm 37:9 speaks of those who inherit the land, the Promised Land. Jesus has now expanded it: It’s not just a sliver of land along the Mediterranean Sea that you’ll inherit as My people, I will give you the world.

Could not be more directly opposed to the way of the world. Not to the strong, or the harsh, or the tyrannical, or the shrewd, or the calculating, but to the meek Jesus promises the inheritance of the earth.

“Blessed are those,” He continues, verse 6, “who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

This all-encompassing righteousness desired before God. It is a personal righteousness. Is it a righteousness in the world? It’s a vindication before God and His tribunal.

Do you ever look into the world and feel like righteousness is the one thing completely missing? Can you ever relate to the psalmist who said, “He wept streams of tears to see people breaking the law of God”?

I know what comes more easily in my heart, is frustration, vindictive spirit, an unrighteous anger, how dare they? Do you see what those people are doing? Jesus says, “Blessed are the hungry.”

It was C.S. Lewis who wrote so eloquently in describing this absence. Of course, it goes back to Augustin and ultimately it goes back to Jesus Himself. There is a hole that each of us has, and maybe when you realize that the one thing you want doesn’t actually satisfy you, it’s to testify to you that the one thing that you actually need is not here on earth. That you’re made for something more.

Jesus says if you want to really, really be satisfied, you know what that feels like? Not over-eating, but just wow, that really hit the spot. That was exactly what I wanted. Some of you are going to go home, what is it? Sunday night. Sunday night is starts with “L” ends with “S” and in the middle is “eftover.” Leftovers. That’s what you have. Or it’s, many homes are calling it “bachelor night,” which is code for “dad can’t cook.” So whatever, but you’re going to be hungry.

And whatever you eat, you get that piece of pie, you get the bag of popcorn, you get a pizza, and when you’re really hungry, and it hits the spot, you feel like that was perfect. Your favorite meal.

Jesus says if you go for that in this life and you think even, if you think marriage? It’s a gift, it’s not going to do it. Kids? They’re a gift. Not gonna do it. The job you want? The opportunity you want? Grandkids you want? Health you want? You think, that’s it. If I just get that one thing. If I only had blank, I’d be happy. Whatever’s in that blank is probably your god. If I only had blank.

Jesus says if you want to be satisfied, you want that deep down, mmm, good to the last drop, hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those who seek after the kingdom will be given all these things added to them.

Conversely, it means that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach, feeling like this world is not the way it’s supposed to be, and something in my life is not the way I wanted it to be. No one likes that feeling, but that’s a hunger. And if it’s a hunger not just for your own satisfaction bur for Christ’s righteousness, it’s a good hunger, and what Jesus would tell us is to search and seek for the righteousness that can only come from Him.

If you find a way to right every wrong and to enact your own vigilante justice, that will feel good for a few days. But you’re going to die a hollowed out shell of a person. Don’t ruin your appetite now.

Now we all love The Princess Bride and Inigo Montoya and “you killed my father, prepare to die.” There is something good about, we have a sense of justice, and so that’s good. We want to see justice served.

We never see what happens to the rest of his life. Was Inigo Montoya really satisfied? He killed the man who killed his father. That was his whole purpose in life. Well, now I’m just ruining it, thanks a lot, Pastor. Now I have to wonder about, you know, Inigo Montoya in his later years.

But if you live your whole life to satisfy that vengeance, you will not be full, ever.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness.” They’ll be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, they shall receive mercy.”

We have been forgiven. Can we not forgive? Don’t you want to receive mercy from God? It’s always true, you and I have sinned against God more than anyone has sinned against you. Some people have really profoundly sinned against you in life. Don’t doubt that. But it is always the case that we have sinned against God more than anyone has sinned against us.

Can you be merciful that you might receive mercy? Would you like others to remember your failings as long as you remember the failings of others? Would you like others to assume the worst about you? Put the worst possible construct on your motives? Never give you the benefit of the doubt? Do you like it when others are quick to be angry, slow to forgive?

Somebody needs to make a t-shirt or a bumper sticker, “Have mercy on stupid people because you’ll be one before you know it.”

Isn’t that true? I remember years ago I was writing something and I was critiquing a scholar and I was, I sent it to a friend ahead of time and said what do you think, and he said, “Oh, that’s good and those are fair critiques.” I had gone on to point out some typos, and my friend wisely said, “He who lives by the typo, dies by the typo.” He said unless you’re confident you’ll never have a typo in anything your write, I just wouldn’t even go there with the typo.”

Be merciful. You’ll need mercy someday.

Have you ever noticed that everyone else except for you is a terrible driver? How is that possible? They don’t use blinkers, they go too fast, they go too slow, they’re there and they don’t turn when the green arrow goes to go left. How can it be that you and I, well, let’s just keep it amongst ourselves, only the people, we’re the only good drivers left? I know I feel that and how can everyone, until I realize how many dumb things I’ve done.

There was a road running between East Lansing and Lansing, and it was about 5 miles. They’re not actually the same city, they’re different municipalities and there’s a road running between them. The main road was three lanes one way going this direction, and three lanes the other way going this direction, and it’s unusual that you have three lane one-way roads going for so many miles. I’ll never forget turning, it’s a fearful thing to turn the wrong way on a one-way. Not a little one-way alley, three lanes of one way traffic.

I think I was getting a Little Caesar’s pizza or something and turned out just heading back, and a moment of tremendous panic. There’s a car. One of us has been very dumb. My first thought is, “It’s him!” Of course, until I realize there’s a second dumb car and “it’s me!” Thankfully, I could quickly, very quickly, turn off and they probably, you know, they went the rest of their day, no doubt they went home and told a friend or a spouse, “You’ll never see, the drivers these days.” It was me and at some point it was you, it will be you.

Can you show mercy? Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

I think I’ve told you before, this has been the single most important verse in my life for fighting the temptation to lust, because you can’t find the temptation to lust without fighting it with greater promises. I get that from Piper. He says, “When sin entices you, sin is promising you things.” You don’t sin because you think you’re going to become an addict. Sin doesn’t say, “Why don’t you go ahead and click here or why don’t you go and have this affair here, and you know what? You’ll ruin your life.”

No, sin makes promises: You’ll feel good, it will look good, it will give you pleasure in the moment. Sin makes promises, so you can’t fight those promises with just willpower. You need better promises, and this is it: Blessed are the pure in heart. For what will they see? God.

It’s a fight of faith. You have to believe that to see God, meaning to see Him in His unveiled glory on the last day and also to see and behold Him now in the pages of Scripture, as His beloved child, to see God is better than what you’re going to see on the other side of that magazine flip or that phone download or that web search.

Blessed are the pure in heart because here’s the promise: You’ll see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Notice it doesn’t just say “blessed are those who keep their nose out of trouble.” This isn’t just the absence of conflict. It’s not even just forgiving your enemies, as necessary as that is. We are actually called to positively make peace where there is none.

One of the vows that you make in joining the church is to seek the things that make for unity, purity, and peace.

Sinclair Ferguson commenting on a similar verse says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” and he says this: “Peace is the referee who blows the whistle on any action that is out of line. Paul does not mean that we are to feel peace deep down, whether we do is beside the point. Rather, he means God has called us to peace, harmony, well-being of our fellowship must be a priority. We will subordinate other considerations, like our will, our position, our natural desires, to seek the shalom of our fellowship.”

Are you seeking the things that make for unity, purity, and peace? They are called “sons of God” because what work on earth is more God-like than making peace? Isn’t that what God did? He came to make peace, the dividing wall of hostility. Peace between different people. Ultimately, peace with Himself.

If you hate, brothers and sisters in Christ, being reconciled, now I understand Romans 12 says “in so far as it depends on you.” Sometimes you do all you can do and a reconciliation is impossible. There’s no forgiveness, there’s no awareness. We live in a fallen world. But if you in yourself, if you do not want reconciliation, you know who else doesn’t want reconciliation? The devil.

The Gospel is meant to break down barriers, to give us a handout and arms open instead of fists tight and arms folded, back turned. We say, “I’m eager to see what I’ve done even more than I am to see what you have done.” It’s not to say that justice doesn’t matter or that sometimes it’s not the case that you may be 100% sinned against, but in so far as we are able, we must not only forgive, not only keep our nose out of trouble, but we must positively work for peace.

That does mean that if you do all you can, sometimes people won’t like the peacemakers. It’s hard work.

Calvin again, “As it is laborious and irksome employment to reconcile those who are at variants, persons of a mild disposition who study to promote peace are compelled to endure the indignity of hearing reproaches, complaints, and remonstrances on all sides.”

It’s hard work to be peacemakers.

Finally, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Did you know that there is more persecution of Christians in the world than perhaps at any other time? One book I read recently called Global War on Christians says “however counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful, sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably are the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often their new martyrs suffer in silence.” That’s around the world.

Persecution is big, martyrdom, arrest, fines, betrayal. But persecution often happens in smaller ways, too. You see what Jesus says in verses 11 and 12. He unpacks, well, what is persecution? Is persecution just the big stuff? Just deny Jesus or death? Well, that’s the biggest thing and we don’t want to pretend to be persecuted when we’re not, but listen to what He says: Blessed are you when others revile you. That means they hate you, they disdain you, they persecute you, they utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. They don’t understand. They don’t try to understand. They just say, well, you’re just filled with hate. You’re a bigot. You’re phobic. Utter all kinds of slander against you.

Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

Mark this very well: Persecution is not something that befalls only a few Christians. It is the cowardly man who has no enemies. It is the normal experience of Christians everywhere, even in the South, that they would have some who utter false things against them.

Perhaps it means fines or family shame or being kicked off college campuses, or a quiet, quiet derision. Maybe it means public mockery, arrest, brutality, death. But if we are to follow Jesus, He tells us that opposition will not be unusual. It will be the normal mark of being a disciple.

This one is hard for us. All of them are hard, but we could almost understand if Jesus said, “Stiff upper lip, persecuted ones. You know, just keep on keeping on.” But He goes one step farther and says, “Congratulations. Happy are you.” Verse 12: “Rejoice.” I don’t want to rejoice. “Be glad.”

That’s not my natural instinct. Why? Because people treated you unfairly? No. Because they said all sorts of false things against you? Of course not.

Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great.

See what Jesus does? He goes to the future and He goes to the past. He says, “Congratulations. You are just like your illustrious family. They did this to the prophets and congratulations, you’re going to get a great reward coming in the future.”

So let me as this as we close. Having gone through these eight “congratulations,” what eight things would you, in a moment of candor, someone injects you with truth serum, hooks you up to a lie detector, and you have to write out your eight completely honest Beatitudes. What might they sound like?

Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the kingdom of pleasure.

Blessed are those who feel good about themselves, for they shall be confident.

Blessed are the aggressive, for they shall control the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for recognition, for they will be noticed.

Blessed are the demanding, for they will receive what they demand.

Blessed are the sexually liberated, for they shall be free to live as they please.

Blessed are the scheming, for they shall be called children of the powerful.

Blessed are those who are praised by the world, for theirs is the kingdom right now.

Those are the Beatitudes that our world gives us, and if we’re honest, they’re the Beatitudes too often in our hearts.

This opening section in the Sermon on the Mount is about the kingdom, it’s about how to live, and it’s about Jesus. Every Beatitude describes Him perfectly. The One who did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, is that not the ultimate poverty in spirit?

The One who called Himself a man of sorrows, blessed are those who mourn.

The One who called Himself meek and lowly.

The One that Malachi predicted would be a Son of righteousness.

The One who comes to us as a merciful high priest, Hebrews tells us.

The One who is not just pure in heart but is the Holy One of Israel.

The One who is not just a peacemaker but the Prince of Peace.

And the One who was shamefully put to death on a cross as our suffering servant.

Every one of these Beatitudes is giving us the character of Christ Himself.

God gives us these eight qualities, not to ruin you, but to reward you.

The Olympics are coming up and people will get medals and they’ll be there and they’ll dip their head, and picture Jesus. He’s there ready to hand you another medal, another medal. You’re poor in spirit, way to go. You mourn for your sins, another one. You’re hungry for righteousness, there you go. You want to see My face more than you want to see the internet, there you go. Again and again, He stands ready with us on the podium, to give us what is actually worthwhile.

If we are not pursuing this character in ourselves, it is because we have not beheld it in Christ as precious and we have not trusted His promises as better than whatever the world has to offer.

The truly blessed one is the one who follows after Jesus in faith and repentance.

Let’s pray. Our heavenly Father, work by Your Spirit to do what we cannot do, what I cannot do for myself. I do not look like this on a whole lot of days. So help us, Lord, first of all to see Jesus who is all of this, and then to give us hearts of faith, to believe, and through that faith to transform us from one degree of glory to the next. In Jesus we pray. Amen.